Philippine President to Visit Filipino Communities During US, Canada Trips

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Philippne President Benigno S. Aquino III will meet with Filipino communities when he goes to the United States and Canada on the second week of May, the Office of the President said.

The report said that Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Maria Andrelita Austria revealed that the President will have a one-day working visit in Chicago on May 6, before travelling to Canada on a state visit from May 7 to 9.

“We want to look at this visit as covering three basic points: first, is to reciprocate the visit made by the Prime Minister of Canada to the Philippines in November 2012; second, to acknowledge and affirm Canada’s move to strengthen relations with the Philippines to its designation of the Philippines as a priority emerging market and a country of focus; and third, to reach out to the growing Filipino community in Canada, which now constitutes a visible minority of two percent of the country’s total population,” said Austria of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) Office of American Affairs.

She also said President Aquino will take the opportunity to pass by Chicago, where he will meet with the Filipino community as well as potential investors.

“He has been to the West Coast, he has been to the East Coast, but he hasn’t been to that area. So we felt that when we made the recommendation, it was a good opportunity for the President to be able to meet and greet the Filipinos in that area,” Austria explained.

In Canada, President Aquino will have meetings with Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The President will also have a round-table discussion with the Asia-Pacific Forum and like in all his visits, he will be meeting with the 285,000-strong Filipino community in Toronto and representatives of the 280,000-strong Filipino community in Vancouver,” she said.

Austria noted that Canada is the Philippines’ 21st top trading partner, saying that “from January to November 2014, our exports were at over $500 million and imports are $284 million”.

“We see so much potential in the relations with Canada,” she said, adding that Canada is the country’s 14th source of development assistance and sixth top visitor market.

“In the past two years, we have been designated as a country of focus in terms of development assistance, which means we are part of a very small group of countries which will get 90 percent of Canada’s development assistance,” said Austria.

“And the good thing about Canada’s development assistance is they are very focused on things like women empowerment and microenterprise, sustainable entrepreneurship at the micro level. So that is something that is in consonance with the President’s inclusive growth goal. So we would like to talk a lot about that,” she added.

“We are also looking at discussions for the protection of our Filipino workers in Canada and they will also be talking about regional developments,” Austria said.

When asked about the deals to be signed during the visit to Canada, the DFA official said, “We are working on several agreements and the biggest of which will have something to do with operationalizing our designation as a country of focus.”

“There are also very substantive discussions on how to strengthen mechanisms to increase the flow of trade between the two countries,” Austria said.

President Aquino’s trip to Canada is the first for a Philippine president since President Fidel Ramos’ visit in 1997. –